Michael Kwan

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Top tourist destinations in Malaysia

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As a born-and-bred Malaysian who’s never really explored anywhere outside the capital, sometimes it’s easy to forget that my home country is one of the most visited countries in the world, thanks to our diverse cultures, tropical rainforests and awesome food (political dramas notwithstanding). Few realise that Malaysia’s been highly listed on Lonely Planet and Forbes, in addition to countless other websites and leading authorities in international travel.

Hence, this article is written not only for curious foreigners who may or may not have been to Malaysia, but also for my fellow countrymen who probably do not realise the amazing destinations to visit right here within our borders. Do note that the below are not arranged from best to worst, as I these places are very different from one another and you can easily visit them all without feeling the slightest hint of boredom or repetition – provided you have the cash, of course!

Without further adieu, I proudly present my list of Top Five Tourist Destinations in Malaysia:

1. KUALA LUMPUR AND SURROUNDING AREAS

Image from Forbes.com

In case you didn’t already know, Kuala Lumpur is the pride and joy of the country as the Capital of Malaysia. Spanning nearly 250 sq km (95 sq mi) with a bustling population of about 2 million, the city is a massive amalgamation of the various races, cultures, traditions and food in the country. It is set to be the 10th most visited city in the world, according to Forbes.

One of the food stalls in Hutong Food Court, Lot 10 Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Image from www.placesandfoods.com

Food enthusiasts will appreciate places like Petaling Street (also known as Chinatown) and the Bukit Bintang area as they are packed with some of the best Malaysian food stalls around. Must-try foods are Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai, Hokkien Mee, Popiah, Wantan Mee, Air Batu Campur (or ABC), Ramly Burger, Curry Mee, Mee Mamak, Rendang Ayam, Chicken Rice and Char Koay Teow (stir-fried flat noodles).

Pavillion Kuala Lumpur. Image from Wikipedia.

Kuala Lumpur is also home to various shopping malls such as Mid Valley Megamall (6th largest shopping mall in the world), Suria KLCC, Pavillion/Lot 10/Sungai Wang Plaza/Low Yat Plaza/Berjaya Times Square (all located in the Bukit Bintang area); as well as 1 Utama (4th largest) and Sunway Pyramid(9th largest) located slightly outside Kuala Lumpur. If you’ve ever wanted to buy anything from Malaysia, here’s the place to do it. Oh, and fun fact: Our shopping malls close at 9pm, unlike in many other countries where life stops at 5pm. Remember to bring your credit cards.

Pasar Malam in Taman Connaught, probably the largest night market in Kuala Lumpur. Image from jayrenthezompire.blogspot.com
An example of pasar malam food. Image from www.thelongestwayhome.com

To the more adventurous, I would highly recommend visiting the night markets (or “pasar malam”, as they are locally known) as these places are FILLED with great-tasting Malaysian food stalls, as well as a *very* wide variety of goods such as toys, clothes, shoes, fruits and ornaments.

Petronas Twin Towers at night. Image from mimsc2009.webs.com

And of course, no visit to Malaysia is ever complete without visiting the Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC. The Skybridge and Observation Deck is open to the public from 9am – 9pm, Tuesday to Sunday at RM80 per adult (about 25 USD).

2. PERHENTIAN ISLANDS

One of Perhentian Islands taken from a distance. Image from sampugitaholidaysdnbhd.blogspot.com

Malaysia is home to some of the most beautiful snorkeling and diving spots in the world. I’ll highlight the Perhentian Islands (loosely referred to simply as “Perhentian”) as in my opinion, they have a nice balance between snorkeling and diving spots, minimal yet sufficient development and generally have lesser visitors due to the longer travelling distance from Kuala Lumpur; all of which translate into a perfect island getaway for tourists.

One of the many reefs in Perhentian. Image from www.riceblogger.com
Would you dare to swim with the Black Tip Sharks at Shark Point, Perhentian? Image from tengyanung.blogspot.com

Perhentian (pronounced per-hen-ti-an, loosely translated from Malay as “a place to stop“) consists of two islands: Perhentian Besar (literally: big place to stop) and Perhentian Kecil (small place to stop). Both islands have many snorkeling spots, and the locals regularly organise bi-hourly trips to these locations for a small fee.

A picture taken on a dive course offered by www.quiver-perhentian.com

There are a number of diving centres such as Flora Bay Divers, Universal Diver and Watercolours World which offer first-time dive lessons and PADI certification in addition to normal diving sessions, so you don’t have to worry about not having any previous diving experience.

If you’re lucky, you may even be able to swim with the turtles in Perhentian. Unfortunately, the turtle population has been struggling to survive in Perhentian, so if you can, please help them by joining in the sea turtle conservation project Help Our Penyu.

Besides Perhentian Island, you can also visit Redang Island (very popular for snorkeling among Malaysians), Tioman Island (a popular dive spot) and Sipadan Island (in state of Sabah, East Malaysia).

[to be continued]

3. TAMAN NEGARA

4. LANGKAWI ISLAND

5. GUNUNG MULU NATIONAL PARK


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Michael

2 thoughts on “Top tourist destinations in Malaysia

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